Monday, February 15, 2010

2010 Team Analysis: Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals:

2009 Record: 65-97

General Manager: Dayton Moore

Manager: Trey Hillman

Organizational Philosophy: since his arrival after the 2006 season, a lot of hope has been placed on Dayton Moore's shoulders in turning this franchise around.  Moore began his baseball career as a scout for the Atlanta Braves and rose quickly through the ranks before becoming the assistant GM under then Braves GM John Schuerholz.  Upon being hired as the Royals GM, Moore made no secret of being a longtime fan of the team and his reputation as a shrewd talent evaluator used to operating under a small market budget made him seem perfect for the job.

During the 2006 offseason, Moore vowed to turn this organization around by focusing more on the amateur draft and international market (two areas the previous administation somewhat ignored) in an effort to strengthen build through player development.  However, the process has been rather erratic as the Royals have been frequent players in the free agent market and made some questionable signings (Jose Guillen, Mike Jacobs, Kyle Farnsworth, Juan Cruz, Rick Ankiel and Scott Posednik) while certain affordable prospects (Kila Ka'aihue, Mitch Maier) were left to languish within the system or traded away (Farnsworth and Cruz replacing Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez).  Moore has been widely criticized for saying one thing but doing the complete opposite ("pitching is the currency of baseball" but then using his early draft picks in '07 and '08 to grab bats; it's not fair since it's still relatively early but time will tell if grabbing Mike Moustakas over Jarrod Parker, Madison Bumgardner, Aaron Poreda or Rick Porcello (the latter being expensive, I know) in '07 or taking Eric Hosmer over Christian Friedrich, Andrew Cashner or even 1B Justin Smoak, for that matter, were wise moves).

Instead of taking the example of other AL Central teams in smaller markets (Minnesota and Cleveland), Kansas City seems to have followed in the footsteps of the Ken Williams led Chicago White Sox where overpriced bullpen arms and speedy outfielders are taken despite their price and those lucky to make it through the minor league ranks better impress early and often... I'm sure with three full seasons of Dayton Moore as the GM, Royals were expecting things to be much diffferent.

2010 Commitments:

Starting Rotation:

Zach Greinke ($7.25M)
Gil Meche ($12.4M)
Luke Hochevar ($1.3M)
Kyle Davies ($1.8M)
Brian Bannister ($2.3M)
Robinson Tejeda ($950K)

Obviously you don't need me to tell you that Zach Greinke was pretty awesome last season... but do you need me to tell you that I expect higher HR/FB numbers for him next season?  No?  Okay, we'll move on.

Gil Meche struggled with a dead arm and shoulder inflammation before being shut down in the second half of last season.  Command will be key if he hopes to return to his '07 and '08 form but I don't see him as a 34 start guy anymore.

Luke Hochevar is an interesting case.  His inconsistency between starts (bouncing from brilliant to awful) and his groundball tendencies translating to a high frequency of HR's allowed (23 in 143 IP) has been baffling.  He did show improvement with his command (2.90 BB/9 last season) but he did abandon his changeup in '09 in favor of throwing more curveballs.  According to FanGraphs, his slider still ranks as his best pitch but the lack of quality of his other pitches seem to keep him from breaking out as a top of the rotation starter.  He has struggled against LHer's (.301/.369/.502 in his career) and his lack of a true offspeed pitch (besides his capable slider) may be the reason for these struggles.  Hochevar will be 26 next season so there is still time for him (and the organization) to figure things out.

Both Kyle Davies and Brian Bannister have struggled with consistency and both were sent down to AAA due to ineffectiveness.  Bannister has never had much of a fastball (averages about 89 mph) and his changeup is only a few clicks slower but last season he did throw a cutter a majority of the time for the first time in his career.  His command was still good (2.92 BB/9 in 154 IP) and this may have helped increase his groundball totals in 2009 (increased to 49.5% last season from 37% the year before).

Davies is a longtime groundball machine that saw his command get away from him (4.83 BB/9 in 123 IP).  He also began to throw a cutter and utilized his changeup better last season.  Both he and Bannister are under 30 so there's some hope.

Robinson Tejada is a 28 year old cast-off who has been bounced around as a starter and reliever.  The Royals still believe he still have the tools to start show expect him at camp working on improving his capable changeup and trying to show capable command (averages a horrible 5.23 BB/9 in 373 MLB innings).  He does have an excellent fastball and slider but don't count on the walks to drop anytime soon.


Joakim Soria ($3M)
Kyle Farnsworth ($4.5M)
Juan Cruz ($3.25M)
Roman Colon ($665K)
Carlos Rosa ($400K)
Victor Marte ($400K)
Dusty Hughes ($400K)

Like Greinke, the Royals have an excellent option at the top of the bullpen.  Joakim Soria has been elite the past few seasons as a closer, just keep an eye on his flyball rates (last season's 42% flyballs is nothing to be overly alarmed about - but this rate has been steadily rising as his HR/FB rate, as well).

On the field:

C: Jason Kendall ($2.25M)
C: Brayan Pena ($400K)
1B: Billy Butler ($420K)
1B: Josh Fields ($410K)
2B: Alberto Callaspo ($415K)
SS: Yuniesky Betancourt ($3.3M)
SS: Mike Aviles ($425K)
3B: Alex Gordon ($1.1M)
LF: David DeJesus ($4.7M)
CF: Scott Podsednik ($1.65M)
RF: Jose Guillen ($12M)
OF: Willie Bloomquist ($1.7M)
OF: Mitch Maier ($400K)
OF: Brian Anderson ($700K)

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